hobart logo
Whiskey for my Men, Beer for my Hoopleheads: pt. 4 photo

Read Kevin Mahler's Introduction to his ongoing 5-part "Portrait Series Paralleling Characters in HBO’s Deadwood with Contemporaneous Pop Country Musicians," and check out previous parts 1 and 2 and 3 here. 


In 2004, I was a hotel housekeeper supervisor, which let me watch CMT while I cleaned rooms.

CMT would show three four-minute music videos and then cut to commercials for five or six minutes.

I would work hard during the commercials so I could fake work while the songs played.

During an eight-hour shift, I might see some of the hottest songs played three times. In a week, I might see 30 Keith Urban videos.

I lapped up a diet of Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney and Big and Rich and Shania and Faith and Tim and Gretchen. There was one psychedelic video of Dolly Parton playing a banjo that played constantly but has been forgotten by the cultural mainframe, but I can still see it.

This part of the series is Hearst’s crew ー and, of course, their Nashville compatriots.

Hearst and Big Kenny both position themselves as conquerors. “I saddle up my horse and I ride into the cit-ay /  I make a lot of noise because the girls they are so prett-ay / Ridin’ up and down Broadway on my old stud Leroy…”

John Rich and Francis Wolcott both have lived in easy times too long. They’ve been in too many carpeted rooms and have had too many indulgent patrons. The contempt for their surroundings. What respect did John Rich give his peers in 2004? He’d pose for photos with Terri Clark and Blake Shelton, but at the end of the day, he believed that he knew more about Nashville than all of them and yet embodied something that transcended Nashville. Wolcott despised the Deadwoodians, but could only live out his murderous fantasies under the cover of its chaos.

Bocephus may be characteristically the opposite of Captain Turner. (While Turner represented progress, Hank represents tradition.) But they are both old, talented, and ready to fight.

Ain’t Lou is the reluctant cook, but Trisha turned to cooking because Garth sucked up all  the musical oxygen in the vicinity. Even in retirement.

Remember when Hearst looked at Richardson and said “Stupid, ain’t’cha?” Tell me he didn’t look like he would have traded places with him in a minute if he could have.


George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) and Big Kenny

Bombastic, claiming
A mystical relation
Ship with the Black Hills.


Francis Wolcott (Garret Dillahunt) and John Rich

Perverted slave to
Republican agenda.
“Well, he ain’t lied yet.”


Captain Turner (Allan Graf) and Hank “Bocephus” Jr.

Old, pugnacious guy.
The fair fights are the hardest.
Whiskey-bent, Hell-bound.


Lou Marshbanks (Cleo King) and Trisha Yearwood

Talented cooker,
living in the shadow
of a very big man.


Richardson (Richeson) and The Oak Ridge Boys

All four Oak Ridge Boys
Old, bearded, country as hell.
Raise your antler high!


image: Kevin Mahler